MOGADISHU, Militant Al Shabaab struck a Somali government military base on Wednesday with car bombs and gunfire in a battle that both sides said caused multiple deaths to the other.
Witnesses said some local residents were also killed by stray crossfire during the mid-morning attack on the base in Awdheegle, 70 km southwest of the capital Mogadishu.
The UN-backed Somali government has been riven by civil war since 1992, when clan-based warlords overthrew a dictator, then turned on each other.
General Yusuf Rage Odowa, commander of operations in Somalia's army, said troops had repelled the militants in Awdheegle, adding that various of the attackers' corpses lay at the scene while others were captured.
The Al Shabaab said it had killed 50 soldiers and only suffered two losses of militants who drove the car bombs. Army vehicles were burned, it also said.
Al Shabaab and government officials routinely give different versions and casualty figures for attacks.
Among those killed was a journalist working with the army's radio station, the Federation of Somali Journalists said.
The attack came after Somali government forces had last week captured most parts of Awdheegle district.
Shopkeeper and mother-of-four Halima Farah said that government troops were in control of the town after the attack.
We have now come out of the houses, Farah said by phone.
Al Shabaab was forced out of Mogadishu in 2011 and has since lost most of its other strongholds. But its fighters frequently carry out attacks in Somalia and neighboring Kenya, whose troops form part of an African peacekeeping force.
Source: NAM News Network